UF Reopening 2020

I have read UF’s reopening plan, but wonder how feasible it really is. I’m in Pennsylvania, and every news article I read paints a terrible picture of the Coronavirus spread in the state of Florida.

I would appreciate any thoughts from people who live in Florida or are more in tune with what’s going on in Gainesville.

My daughter had a terrific Freshman experience (until she came home in March), and looks forward to returning in August. As a parent, I’m leery of signing a year long apartment lease … I guess we’re all wondering how to choose the best course of action.

Go Gators!

@houndmom There is so much that could be said in response to your questions and many different views. There will be no consensus of opinions just like there is not everywhere else in the country. I will just address the apartment situation. I have seen where there are some complexes that are offering risk-free leases where you don’t have to pay if there are no on campus classes. I have not looked into those as my son already has a lease signed, but you could look into that.

My 2022 will go back to Gainesville regardless of online or in person classes. My 2024 will go off to the dorm to start his university experience unless dorms do not open. We feel that they are low risk for COVID complications and I fully expect that they will be exposed to it early in the semester if they have not been before they get to Gainesville.

@houndmom We should know more for certain in a few days but it appears that UF will open according to the plan. I spoke with a representative at housing and they are moving ahead, albeit with precautions.

If you look at the cases by county in Florida, there are some stark differences. Alachua (home of UF) has had 1700 total cases, while Miami-Dade has had 50,000+.

There are roughly 10x more people in Miami-Dade, but it has about 30x more cases than Alachua. I’m from Miami, so this is not a North vs. South bash. It’s just fact. Frankly, I feel my two are probably “safer” in Gainesville than in Miami.

As kids move into Gainesville, there will definitely be an uptick. The virus moves with people. Sadly, a lot of traditional activities will be postponed or very muted this fall. Don’t get me started of football…

Like @fl1234 said, there are some complexes (i think it’s just one company though) that are offering risk-free leases. I signed a lease for my son a month ago without an escape clause. The other complexes in town had not adopted the risk-free model at that point.

Ultimately it is your choice and your level of risk tolerance. My son is moving into an apartment where he has his own room and bathroom. He’s a freshman who endured the worst senior year in history, so we think he deserves to go to college, COVID be damned. My daughter is in an apartment style dorm where she has her own bedroom. I think they are each better off than living in a traditional dorm double room; but that’s just one person’s opinion.

Good luck and Go Gators.

@fl1234 @GatorDad305 Thank you for your replies.

Honestly, it’s good to hear from some Florida residents who are sending their kids to live in Gainesville. We plan to do the same, thinking that even if classes go online she can find comraderie and support from other students. She is low risk, but the news reports from Florida are alarming and it’s very hard not to second guess the wisdom in sending a kid 14 hours from home! Our suburban Philly area is starting to see progress in virus containment, but only after months of non-essential business closures, self isolating, etc.

@GatorDad305 Thank you for the perspective of Aluchua county vs Miami-Dade.

Am I correct we should expect another official update Friday?

@houndmom - Yes, we should know all on Friday as that is the new date for announcing opening plans and college class schedules. My son had a Zoom call with a department head yesterday about an unrelated subject and was told to be prepared for the majority of his classes to be on-line. Rumor mill is rife, but the consensus seems to be that students will, on average, have one class in person and the rest on line. I hope and pray this is wrong, but given the circumstances and level of fear, I don’t expect the administration to do anything that might assume risk.

The disconnect I have is with the explanation on how it is safe for my student to congregate in the dorms, dining halls, busses, clubs, etc. but not to be able to assemble in classrooms so they can receive the instruction and experience they earned and paid for. My theory is that by offering one class in person, and pleading that they did the best they possibly could under the circumstances, the administration will persuade students to flock to campus, pay their tuition and dorm rent while purchasing meal plans and spending large sums of money in and around Gainesville. This alleviates the financial duress the university and surrounding communities might experience otherwise. This way, the university generates the cash flow necessary to pay the bills while the local Chamber of Commerce is mollified and quiet. The university skates away by offering crumbs to students at full fare. This is an ideal plan if your purpose is to serve yourself rather than the students. Never mind the parents who carry the tax burden each year that provides most of the institution’s funding.

More than anything, I want to be wrong. I hope for all the students that I am. If so, I will gladly apologize to UF for not giving credit where credit is due. We will know Friday.

@Anisqoyo I guess we need to wait and see what announcement comes tomorrow. My issue - in fact, every parent I speak with who has a college kid, no matter what school - is the fear that colleges are tying to get students to return to campus, but for how long??

I agree with you that it seems more reasonable to “socially distance” students in a classroom vs. a dorm or apartment.

FWIW based on conversations with other parents, UF did as good, in many cases better, a job of online classroom instructions than many other colleges. The bad news, at least for me, is that my D said it will be a waste of time for her to continue online only classes. She feels that she needs in person instruction to learn effectively.

This is a kinda rant/get it off my chest comment. March/April/May we lived with a real shelter in place mandate. We tried to limit grocery runs, other than curbside pick-up there were no restaurants open, etc. We cut our own bangs (huge mistake, do not recommend!). We kept an eye on Florida, and thought - they must be smarter than us! It will be great when kid can return to campus. Now as we get closer to move-in, Florida has become one of the worst states. My kid will need to self-quarantine when she returns to PA. Even her employer says she would not be able to work for two weeks. It just sucks. For everyone.

Oh well. I appreciate all replies. I suspect most of us value and want to provide our kids with the opportunity to experience a traditional college experience. I hope UF offers realistic guidelines tomorrow.

Stay healthy.

I have believed all along that the majority of classes in the Fall would be online, and still expect that to be the case on Friday. They have stated for months that it was their aim to do that, but left some flexibility to each department to determine what courses are absolutely necessary to be delivered in person.

I agree that the logic of delivering most of the classes online but bringing everyone back to campus, living in dorms, going to the dining halls, etc, is difficult to reconcile. I do believe that there is an (maybe large) element of $ involved in those decisions. But, these universities are in incredibly difficult positions, just like every other business, non-profit, government and family in this country. All have to make ‘business’ decisions based on many considerations, not just health. Many people have had to decide to go to work in a high risk environment in order to pay rent and buy food. I see these decisions by universities to be similar to those we each have to make. And we all have a different level of concern about the virus and our own level of risk aversion. So, no decision will be met with unanimity, they will be second-guessed no matter what.

I guess that each family has to decide what they are comfortable with. My kids do fine learning online and I am not concerned about the “quality” of the education. I am also not concerned about them having significant complications from the virus.

This situation is unprecedented and I believe that we all have to change our expectations in many areas, at least temporarily.

@fl1234 - I don’t disagree but will note that your response is exactly what the school is hoping for so that everyone shrugs their shoulders in an attempt to convince themselves the university did all they could, but this is as good as it gets. The last thing the school wants to do is explain why it is safe for students to gather in the dorms, food halls, etc., but not to be in a classroom learning in a traditional manner. It is most certainly driven by money. No one can doubt that. It is also driven by a need to appease the faculty who are looking out for #1 rather than the student’s safety, which is at the lowest end of the risk scale. If they are going to conduct education via on line classes, there is no excuse for providing one class in person (in my son’s case, chemistry lab) rather than placing all classes on-line and allowing parents to save the cost of housing and board when the student experience doesn’t exist. That they would put the students at risk just to maintain the cash flow is inexcusable.

If it isn’t safe for in-person classes, it isn’t safe for students to be on campus. Period.

Well, D just received word that her classes will be 100% online. We have a lot to think about. So sad

@houndmom My daughter just checked and all of her classes are online as well. She’s a junior in computer science in the college of engineering.

I just reviewed FAQs and it looks like the university will be doing some pretty significant contact tracing. https://coronavirus.ufhealth.org/screen-test-protect/frequently-asked-questions/#students

“If someone tests positive and you have had direct connection with them, you will receive a call from UF Health and you will need to self-isolate. You are not permitted to self-isolate in the residence halls. The university has a plan to support students who need to do so. If a student lives on campus or in a sorority or fraternity house, we have held spaces on and off campus to temporarily relocate them for the duration of their quarantine. We will be working with students who live on and off campus to provide support and resources ranging from outreach to academic assistance.”

As a parent, I feel this is a very solid plan, though I truly hope my kid doesn’t fall in this “direct connection” category because it will mean some significant upheaval for an unknown length of time.

I’m not 100% clear what happens in this direct connection scenario. If my daughter is in this category, will they test her and if she is negative, does life go on as normal?

@Gator88NE, have you looked into this yet?

Plenty of questions remain.

@Anisqoyo I guess where I see things differently than you is that I don’t expect for someone else to be responsible for my student’s health and safety. He and I are responsible for that.

It is impossible for the university to ensure that nobody (faculty, staff and students) contracts the virus, short of shutting everything down. Including research, online teaching, and all of the support services that employ thousands. It is just not feasible to shut everything down because the consequences of that are so significant (financial and otherwise).

So, there has to be somewhere in the middle that they land and everyone involved has to understand that it is not ideal. Also, everyone has to be responsible for themselves and not expect the university to protect them from everything.

If someone is not comfortable sending their child to Gainesville, then don’t send them. In your case, can Chem Lab be taken later or at a local college? I would imagine that the university will more flexible than usual with these things.
Again, it is not ideal, but that is where we are for now.

@GatorDad305 I don’t understand how this contract tracing thing will actually work. How will they know who has been in close contact with the student? Everyone at the dining hall when they were there? How do you even know who was there? Everyone on the dorm floor who shared a bathroom? I guess it depends on what “close” means.
It seems that there would quickly be hundreds or thousands that would need to be self-isolated within days of them arriving on campus…

I see this thing very likely unraveling quickly once everyone starts returning to campus. Hundreds, if not thousands will be infected within weeks and the testing, tracing and isolating system will be overwhelmed. I hope I am wrong…

This whole situation is very disappointing. Obviously, it is not UF fault or any University for that matter. They have to have a plan. Looking back at what took place back in March, this whole scenario was very predictable, especially with the way the virus is currently spiraling out of control.

My freshman already had secured his dorm but he is not excited about it. Even today after finding out about the 100 percent online he mentioned the idea of taking a gap year or whatever else is out there. I know we are in this together and we will get through it, but for sure not what anyone was hoping. I will not be surprised that by the time late August rolls around, UF might not even open up the University.

Following up on my post earlier today, I saw UF’s definition of “close contact”. They define it as “a close contact is someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before the start of symptoms until the time the person is isolated”.

That shrinks the scope of who needs to be contacted and isolated, but it still seems like a daunting and impossible task…

@Boomer1964, you have 1 week to back out of the dorm contract with no penalty. I too could see campus getting shut down again during the semester.

@GatorDad305 I just checked, all four of my son’s engineering classes are “100%” online (he doesn’t have any labs this semester).

I think some of the classes that show as 100% online, will end up being hybrids.

It’s going to be a strange semester. It’s one of those things you just have to survive and call it a win.

@fl1234 It looks to me like the contact tracing will end up including kids who are in “closest” contact with someone who tests positive. Everyone in the cafeteria won’t qualify as close, but if you sat across from a positive kid for 15 minutes without a mask, I think you will end up being in lockdown.

It’s a tricky one. My junior daughter has a pretty set routine with a tight group of friends. I don’t see her being in “close contact” with a large number of students – mainly her roommates and a small group of friends.

My freshman son is more social and I expect him to be very active from the moment we hit the on ramp to 75.

It’s going to be a challenge for sure.

We are in Miami, the current epicenter, so Gainesville is more attractive than having them running amok down here.

I am betting that the dorms will not stay open for more than two weeks - lead pipe cinch they won’t be open for more than a month before they close and your children will be back home.

The dangerous part is that some will be Covid asymptomatic - you will think everything is just fine until you get it. And those consequences can be severe - deadly.

My youngest went to summer camp in North Georgia - it stayed open for 4 days before sending kids back home. The New York Times, Washington Post today have articles that reference a CDC study of the circumstances and the CDC reports that 260 counselors and campers tested positive of what they know - about 50% of the campers and counselors that were there. IT ONLY TOOK FOUR DAYS.

My twelve year old son had a fever, we quarantined away from each other when we got home. He tested positive but only had a fever for a few days. I successfully took care of him without getting it.

His friend and neighbor did not have symptoms when his Dad picked him up. So they did not quarantine from each other. The friend and his Dad both came down with COVID. THE DAD (healthy as a horse with no underlying conditions) IS NOW IN THE HOSPITAL IN THE ICU AND HAS BEEN FOR THREE WEEKS. And no telling how many other parents have been severely stricken. They haven’t announced that for privacy reasons.

I only knew four parents of the 260 or so that tested positive and one of those is almost dead.

The point being that it is irrelevant that Miami is more of a hot spot. It is living density among teenagers and young adults that will cause COVID to super spread.

By the middle of September Gainesville is going to be a COVID mess. I cancelled my oldest dorm assignment and he’s not going back to Gainesville until the country has COVID under control.

You may not like my saying this, but if you READ THIS AND IT CHANGES YOUR MIND - IT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE.

Human behavior is critically important in the fight against Covid. Lots of young adults living in tight quarters will magnify any lapse of judgement. How college runs this fall is really up to the kids. if they are diligent and take social distancing, mask wearing, reporting symptoms, isolating when necessary, etc. seriously it could work. It will take only a few irresponsible, immature students to start a real problem. If there are any of the typical large party scenes, the whole thing could crash overnight.

Let’s hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

Your post is passionate but misguided. You have no idea what is going to happen in Gainesville during the first two weeks much less a month.

If you think that going back is not a good idea then don’t send your children. As for me, my daughter is going and I think that she is going to have a wonderful year.